St. Al keeps bragging rights over Cathedral

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 11, 2002

[11/09/02]St. Aloysius will have another year to don the body paint and wave the banners all that changed was the score.

The Flashes used Greg Smith’s 132 yards and three touchdowns to beat Natchez Cathedral 21-12, while most certainly solidifying a high seed in the Class 1A playoffs.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for this game,” Smith said, “and the fact that I got three touchdowns made it that much sweeter.”

Sweet would have been the proper description for the Flashes’ 99-yard, four-minute drive that was capped by Smith’s 4-yard run with 24 seconds remaining in the first half.

The score put the Flashes on top of the Green Wave 14-12 at the half, but its damage may have gone deeper.

“When we drove 99 yards before the half, that right there was the game,” Smith said.

The drive seemed to start on a dud.

Cathedral had taken the momentum and a 12-7 lead on Ja’Mel Jackson’s 43-yard TD run, his second touchdown of the night, with a little more than four minutes remaining in the half.

Michael Engle misjudged the ensuing kickoff and the Flashes began their drive at the 1-yard line. It took a combination of Smith and Michael Head to give St. Al breathing room until Engle attoned for his misjudgement with a 32-yard scamper to the Green Wave’s 14-yard line with less than a minute to play.

The Flashes used four running plays, one a 4-yard touchdown plunge by Smith, to take a 14-12 lead with 24 seconds on the clock.

“Was that 99 yards?” Flashes coach Jim Taylor asked. “It certainly was a momentum shifter.”

The Flashes didn’t start the game as strong as they finished.

Their first drive ended on Smith’s fumble four plays into the game, helping to set up a five-minute scoring drive capatalized by Jackson’s 1-yard TD run to put Cathedral on top 6-0 after the missed extra point.

Jackson had 122 yards rushing and two TDs on 25 carries.

The Flashes took the lead six minutes into the second quarter on Smith’s 5-yard touchdown run for a 7-6 lead.

Two minutes later Jackson was in the end zone again as Cathedral jumped back on top 12-7, before St. Al’s 99-yard march gave the Flashes the lead for good, 14-12.

The second half further heightened the rivalry between St. Al and Cathedral.

Chad Cox threw an interception on the Flashes’ first drive of the second half, but was quickly redeemed when Engle intercepted a Cathedral pass on the ensuing possession.

Two possessions later, the Flashes were threatening to score on third-and-3 at the Green Wave 9 when Cox fumbled the snap.

Two plays later, Walker Hengst fell on Jackson’s fumble at the Cathedral 13-yard line to give St. Al the ball back.

Cox fumbled again on the 4-yard line and the ball squirted forward to the 1-yard line, where St. Al’s David Weiland recovered.

On the next play, Smith went right up the middle for his third TD and a 21-12 Flashes’ lead.

Anthony Rector snuffed Cathedral’s following drive on an interception that had been bobbled by Michael Blain.

Possession changed twice more and the game would appear to be decided until Cox fumbled with two minutes remaining on the clock.

As with everything else Friday night, the ball went the Flashes way when Engle fell on it 10 yards down the field for a first down.

“They didn’t stop us all night. I don’t know if it was because we were excited or what, but we kept stopping ourselves with fumbles, and busted plays and missed blocks. But we stayed in the game,” Taylor said.

“It’s good to win any game, but for these fans, this one is especially sweet.”